Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Did I Take Wrong Turn Back There?"

Life can feel like a prairie road. Those roads lined with rows and rows of wheat, with no cross-roads, direction signs, street lights, or other cars. "Fields of Gold" as Sting wrote. The blazing sun beating down, blinding your eyes through your sunglasses. A breeze nowhere to be found, the crows sitting on the fences with their mouths agape, attempting to cool off as their bluish black feathers take on every degree of unbearable heat. The monotony can be dulling at times, like the sound of a metronome, the ticking of a clock, the dripping water from a leaky faucet.

The thought of summer heat and golden sunshine, sounds warm and attractive, while Autumn is in full force, maple leaves lining the streets. The damp cool air is shocking, sneaking its way to my bones. The early nights arrive and the city becomes quiet, every apartment glowing with light as West Enders create their den for the winter months. The aroma of home cooking is on every floor; burning wood drifting in the air from the lucky ones with fireplaces.

As I move on down the road of my life, I look at my relationships, achievements and acquisitions on either shoulder and wonder if I took a wrong turn way back there on the highway of my past. For the amount of years I've been traveling, I would think I would have fit into the mold that we all aspire to as children, watching Disney movies. I am in my early 40s and am living like I am in my early 30s still. I haven't noticed that I was going around in circles but the view out the windshield seems familiar. It's strange as I see people moving on ahead on the road as I am still moving at the same speed, not veering off course. Friends have moved on, turning off the road, being out of touch until I hit a thoroughfare in the street, their car filled with a new family continuing on an opposing route.

Spending my young years in Europe, busy circles of traffic surrounding a work of art invade my mind. How similar this image is in comparison to my life. The events of my history being the Arc De Triomphe, for example, while the people in my past, present and future are all driving around these events, weaving in and out of my route. Some stay in the same lane ahead or behind me, while others veer off to a side street, and yet others turn on to the roundabout, driving up beside me, nodding hello.

How did I get to this particular roundabout? Why am I stuck in the innermost lane, unable to move to the outer lane in hopes to veer off onto a side street of new and challenging life experiences? Why am I only able to drive a two seater? How do I trade in my car for a station wagon, sedan or SUV? And do it want any of these cars, or would I rather continue on my path in a Mini Cooper? 

It's strange to me how my friends with families admire my choices. Little do they know is that I never chose to not be married, have children, own a house, or generally live the life of the cookie-cutter 40 year old. Of course, one can say that I am where I am today because of my past choices. I agree, but when I have to choose between a rock and a hard place, it's no wonder I don't live deep in a cave. Let's just say the hands dealt to me haven't been winners. I have no choice in this poker game to fold, so I do my best with what I get from the dealer. I have a pretty good hand right now. No aces but definitely not a hand to replace. I choose, that's right, CHOOSE, which cards to toss as the dealer replaces those bad cards. It seems, my problem in the past is that those cards I discarded had potential and resulted in a weaker hand. Now, I am holding a strong hand yet I think I may have discarded a key card by mistake. I can't take it back and that mistake has made my hand weaker.

I hope I'm not forced to discard, but if I am, I will move to another table with my mini and my fields of gold to my innermost lane on my  roundabout. Hopefully I will recognize the pulse of the traffic to change lanes and make the right exit. In the meantime, I will peer over my hand at the dealer and the poker masters waiting for the next card.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Addictions Never Go Away

Everyone has an addiction. There is not one person in this world without some kind of repetitive action that gives them some kind of lift. There are limitless addictions from obvious bad habits, like smoking, to dangerous addictions, like heroine. There are harmless addictions, like washing your hands, and there are strange addictions, like hoarding. Lives can be limited by addiction, unable to break free of the jail they have created. 

I have addictions and have quit a nasty unhealthy smoking addiction almost four years ago. In those addicted personalities will always be a little pinch in your brain reminding you of your past dependency. Since quiting smoking I discovered a new habit which turned into an addiction: shopping. Buying clothing, shoes and purses seems to have replaced my need to allow nicotine to float through my blood vessels. Quitting smoking finally made me me feel healthier, resulting in me actually losing weight and looking better. I decided to purchase some better clothes resulting in a weekly shopping therapy routine. I have replaced my smoking with shopping. I am especially addicted to jackets. I gave away some of my old jackets, some of which I had never worn. I have made a decision that my last purchase, a leather jacket, set off a switch in my head, to stop. If I need to shop it will be for others. Christmas is coming, so gifts are on my list.

I have another addiction. Walking around Stanley Park on the seawall. I have tried other routes but for some reason they aren't the same. I either bring a camera or I don't, listen to music, or not, but regardless, once a week I love walking the seawall. The seawall is part of my personal world where, if I see a person violating the bike path or littering, it drive me crazy. Winter always depresses me when the wet and cold weather keeps me from walking in the park. When the weather becomes warm in the spring, the first walk around the seawall is incredible. Regardless, this addiction is a harmless habit and good for my health.

On the other hand, I have another addiction which is not healthy and this involves technology. My dependency on my ipod and cell phone has created an interesting backward evolutionary jump, causing back and neck pain to make me hunched over in pain, similar to a greater ape. Additionally, the position of the computers I work on are definitely not ergonomically correct making me homo unerectus. Looking down at my tech toys has caused a back problem which I am spending time and money in a chiropractic office. I'm surprised I haven't started growing another digit on my hands to text faster.

Other people I know have traded addictions; nicotine for exercise, cocaine for caffeine, alcohol for caffeine, work for sympathetic attention. The trades are happening all around us. Love for money, money for power, food for dieting; people barter for a better euphoria, a better high. I quit smoking because it did nothing for me. I was addicted but never used it as a crutch or a security blanket. It was more social, where I had to give up friendships due to neglect, as I didn't hang out in the smoke pit, where relationships were formed with people who all had he same addiction. Whether the replacement addiction has already begun before the old addiction is abandoned, I am unsure. 

Everywhere I look I see people with addictions; whether they call them habits or routines, they are still addictions. Some do not need to be terminated, others require immediate removal. The addict, when removed from the activity that gives that person the positive feeling, becomes anxious and irritated, regardless of the irrationality of the addiction. Even people addicted to Apple products, become extremely bothered by Microsoft and its PC -related products. Smokers cannot think rationally when experiencing a nic-fit. People, knowing that fast food is bad for their health, eat McDonalds and KFC, putting rationality on the back burner. Workaholics disregard their mental health by not balancing work with play.
I guess the key is to control these addictions by trading off the bad ones for good ones. I believe everyone can't have all good addictions or they would no doubt be pretty boring. I am trying my best to trade off the bad ones. If I kick this damn shopping habit, a whole bunch of people are gonna be getting some pretty sweet gifts. Additionally, bad habits can be controlled to a minimum if necessary. Go ahead and eat your BigMac but just don't do it everyday. Have a drink or two, just don't go on a bender, blacking out. Once the addiction is out of control, it's time for some assistance.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

In The Clouds

October is in full force as the last rays of sunshine warmed Vancouver yesterday in a final attempt of escape before the cool damp air socks us in. The traffic in the West End has settled and the pedestrians are all carrying out their grocery shopping routines. There are few tourists populating the sidewalks, leaving room to see the local shops slow down, and frozen yogurt stores close for the cold months. The sound of a jack hammer fills the air as a business renovates into new condominiums. Watching Denman Street now, one would never imagine the hustle and bustle during the key summer months.

I worked an enormous amount of hours over the summer, and previously, during the months of the Olympics in the winter. The city, is in a type of mourning, with everyone back to work or school, the leaves dying on the trees, falling gingerly to the pavement. There seems to be more life on my balcony, with the finches, sparrows and chickadees fattening up for the winter. The nightlife is desolate, the seawall is in demolition, being repaired for the next years tourists. At night when I peer out into the darkness, everyone has their lights on as if no one wants to leave their winter den.

My brain, usually working up a storm, gears ticking away, has slowly come to a halt. The uneventful days make for a heavy inefficient thinking process. When the human slows down it's hard to get that human up and going at a decent pace again. This is the same for the human brain. The hectic days filled with endless cooking, strategic ordering, impossible scheduling and little sleep have ended followed with the continuous ticking of the second hand as the days last for an eternity. Trying to explain to my staff that their hours will be cut unless they are willing to change their availability is frustrating. This is probably the only thing keeping my brain active as I have found myself drifting off, unable to focus on the minor task at hand.

My body is firmly planted on the ground, going through the routines of life and work, but my head is floating in the clouds of October. This is when I should be most energized, ready to take on challenges and problem solve at work. Without enough recovery time, holiday pushed to the side again as more work difficulties affect my life, I am like old skin, pinched and then unable to shrink back to the shape it was in before the pinch.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tick Tock Tick Tock

I hear the ticking of my inherited cockoo clock counting down the time, the seconds of the evening, as I lay in bed waiting to fall into a deep sleep. Inubriated passersby sing, while stumbling home after a night of drinks, possibly at my workplace. A faint belly laugh from a woman tickles the air while cars lumber by looking for a lucky chance of a close parking spot. The click clack of a pair of high heels rises through my bedroom window and a soft murmur of a conversation drifts in and out of my hearing. These are the familiar sounds of my neighbourhood. City life, full of people, sirens, barking dogs, and loud parties surround me, rocking me to sleep.
Time is on my mind as I try to sleep. Time in relation to age. I have had the pull of the maternal clock and it has almost past as I start a new beginning in my physical life; the twilight of my young days of verility is at hand, soon to be in the rear view mirror as I wipe the steam from my reading glasses. I realize that my 42 year old body is beginning to feel 60 on some days, and that I should treat it with a little more respect, like an elder in my presence. Neck pain, back pain, tooth issues, numbness, forgetfulness...all signs of getting older. I'm like a rubber band that is old and a bit frayed. Over stretching it will cause it to snap, but it will work if it's treated with care. My hormones are also causing me to shed a few more foreign tears at unusual times. This is a bit uncomfortable for witnesses and more for me, a woman of strength and perserverence. I don't cry, especially in front of anyone. It makes me feel weak and and I am anything but weak.
Tick tock tick tock.
Age is impossible to stop as is time. I am always one to embrace my aging, especially givin the genes with which I have been blessed. I am mistaken for someone younger mostly. On the outside I portray a person who is stable and fit, not affected by wrinkles and gray hair, but I have been burdened with neck and back problems for awhile now and am in pain on and off on a weekly basis. I need to find the perfect pillow height for sleeping and I bet I'd wake up feeling younger.
Well, this excerpt of my writing is going in no real direction. I will drift off to the surrounding sounds of my world. Good night and wish me luck.